Going to school and getting future-ready by learning necessary life skills, which includes a basic level of spoken English as well, is something almost taken-for-granted by most of us. But, for children born and brought up in a city slum area such as Mumbai's Dharavi, this continues to be a distant dream.
Realising the need and importance of spoken English which is perceived to be an economic enabler in society, and a skill that distinguishes slum children from the rest, is Radio City 91.1FM's 'Candy Class' project. Conceptualised and executed in collaboration with GREY Group India, the project aims to bridge this gap between children in the slums and those better-privileged.
The promos for the initiative, which went on air on April 23, gave an introductory insight into the concept behind this activation. This was followed by the first on-air class that took place in Dharavi on Sunday, April 24, at 4 pm, followed by a second class on May 1, at the same time. The classes are expected to continue for some time.
Speaking about the initiative, Abraham Thomas, chief executive officer (CEO), Radio City 91.1FM, says, "Candy Class is an ambitious project and we have rolled out the first phase. Dharavi is one of Mumbai's largest slums and seemed to be the right place for the project to take off."
Radio Jockey (RJ) Archana, the lead RJ for Radio City, Mumbai, broadcasts the programme every Sunday at 4 pm, and helps slum kids aged between 5-16 years to learn simple, yet effective terms and phrases in English by plugging in a specific programme capsule. The children are expected to repeat the terms in Hindi and then followed by English after the RJ has spoken them out aloud.
At the end of the session, all the children who participate in the activity receive a free complimentary candy from the candy vendor. This translates into a total of 30 candy sellers carry 50 candies per cycle (priced between Rs 2-3), and distribute the lot among eight to 12 kids.
"What's really interesting is the way this initiative brings together the power of radio with the cycle candy vendors for a common purpose. Candy Class is not elaborate, does not require huge infrastructure and investments, yet is incredible when you consider the economic and social implications of speaking the language in a country such as ours," opines Sandipan Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, GREY Group India.
The candy vendors received briefing about the activity prior to the commencement of the initiative conducted by volunteers from Radio City 91.1FM and GREY Group India. Around 20 candy vendors were provided with FM receivers and megaphones while the rest of them carried their own transistors. Additionally, the vendors have also been directed to park their cycles in specific localities every week at a certain time for a specific amount of money paid to them as an incentive for the same. To add to it, ACORN Foundation India, a registered charitable trust, affiliated to ACORN International, has also joined hands to help create a sustainable model for the activity which will aid in scaling up the project in Dharavi.
The project which has received an encouraging response in its first phase stands to be scaled up across 10 other cities in the country where Radio City has a marked presence. The initiative will also be amplified by way of on-ground promotions and special activities for children, to be conducted in slum areas by radio jockeys and members of slum localities.